James Shugg worked at Westpac’s London HQ for 20 years.
James Shugg worked at Westpac’s London HQ for 20 years.

Westpac economist jailed for organising ‘chemsex’ parties

A HIGH-PROFILE Westpac economist and TV pundit who regularly appeared on the ABC, Sky News, CNN and the BBC has been jailed for five years after police uncovered his secret life as the organiser of drug-fuelled sex parties at his flat in the West End of London.

James Shugg, 53, alongside accomplices including 20-year-old actress Sara Bleta, who appeared as an extra in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, supplied participants of so-called "chemsex" parties with drugs including cocaine, crystal meth and mephedrone, known as miaow-miaow, The Times reported.

Shugg, who was paid $410,000 (£250,000) a year and worked at Westpac's London office for 20 years, reportedly had a nearly $2000 (£1200) a week addiction to crystal meth. Shugg and his other accomplice, 26-year-old Alejandro Montes-Bailon, were arrested when police raided two properties in August 2015, discovering "a quantity" of cocaine, crystal meth and mephedrone.

Police said in a media statement they began investigating the trio's activities "following incidents in Soho and areas of the West End where it was suspected that illnesses and injuries were linked to crystal meth, mephedrone, GHB, LSD and cocaine".

James Shugg
James Shugg

"Following this, further searches were carried out ... where Bleta and another man were arrested in possession of larger quantities of the Class A drugs."

Shugg, Bleta and Montes-Bailon were sentenced at the Southwark crown court on Monday to five years, four years and two years respectively for conspiracy to supply class A and class B drugs.

"Telephone and text evidence and indeed evidence of moneys going between accounts suggest that the conspirators had been active for a considerable period before those dates," Judge Joanna Korner was reported in The Standard as saying.

"Our team has broken up a network where drugs were being made available to vulnerable users," DS Vince Abrahart of Westminster Crime Squad said.

"During the investigation it was shown that the effects of the mixtures of these drugs used at 'chemsex' parties can prove fatal. The reckless supply of these drugs had to be stemmed.

"The sentences handed down to those involved show that the dealers of these dangerous substances will be brought to justice and made to pay for their criminal actions.

"Shugg, Bleta and Montes-Bailon formed a supply network to distribute wholesale quantities of drugs to a large client base they built up through social media and word of mouth referrals. As a result of these arrests and charges, significant quantities of Class A and B drugs have been seized and this criminal network has been broken up."

Mr Shugg left the bank in mid-2015. A Westpac spokesman said: "We don't comment on former employees."

Sara Bleta.
Sara Bleta.
News Corp Australia

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